Thursday, 10 July 2014

The Sneaky Chinese Guys

The US government runs a department....whose sole responsibility is to access and control security clearances for all US citizens working for the US government.  Every five years....if you have a clearance....these guys snoop over your financial records, your travels, your relationships, and your perceived attitude at the office.  Then, they write this stuff down, and someone makes a decision if you continue your security clearance....or you fail it....thus getting terminated at work.

This week, this department admitted that Chinese hackers snooped around the database.  The department said in some positive way that the Chinese didn't get personal information from the database.  Of course, over the past few years....various government agencies have said things that were simply not true, and no one challenged them on the factual part of their story.  In this case, I'm not sure if the Chinese got locked out, or simply found a better door to enter on a later occasion.

So, why would some Chinese guy want to find this listing and the data attached to hundreds of thousands of cleared US government employees?  You can arrange for them to fall into various traps....if you know the guy is heavily in debt (like a $500k mortgage that he can barely pay), or his credit cards are up to around $50,000.  Perhaps by reviewing the records....you can assess the guy travels a good bit to the Caribbean and you can have some hooker become friendly with the guy while sitting at a bar in Aruba and get him into a black-mail scheme.  Or you could start to move non-Chinese agents into the US....plant them as neighbors to target X, and then listen into phone chats from the house next door.

Generally, it always bothered me when I had to fill out the twelve-page document every five years and declare various facts.  They would snoop around and if you missed a detail....like some one-day trip to Switzerland, or some $25,000 investment account transfer....they would dig and figure you had tried to hide the information.  So, there's tons of data in this database, and it's all sitting there to be manipulated by the Chinese....if they can just sneak around the entry problem.

Are the guardians of this data worried?  I kinda doubt it.  They might be curious over why the Chinese would sneak into it....but I would doubt they are rethinking the whole database and access quality that protects it.  Meanwhile, if you were holding a clearance.....you'd start to wonder about new friends or neighbors who bump into you, and ask a lot of questions.

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